The commodification of water and land in Mali

By Sékou Diarra

, by Pambazuka

This article is part of a special issue on water and water privatisation in Africa produced as a joint initiative of the Transnational Institute, Ritimo and Pambazuka News. This special issue is also being published in French.

Mali’s Dogon have traditionally seen water as a source of life and a public good, with the right to water ‘a prerequisite to all other human rights.’ Now the privatisation of water threatens to exclude citizens from managing their most precious resource, leaving ‘the task with a commercially minded technocracy’, says Sékou Diarra.

Nowadays, politicians in Africa are generally more concerned with market efficiency, economic growth rates, productivity of financial capital and the security of the rich than they are about human rights and the security of the people. In African countries, if progress is identified with economic growth alone, it leads to the gradual loss of the representative aspects of their institutions and an increasing gap between public institutions and citizens; the latter are considered as consumers, clients, people with savings, all merely aimed at benefiting the stock exchanges. At human level, the interconnected crises (food, energy, financial, migratory, democratic etc) and the successive failure of the Conferences on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009 and Cancun in 2010, are the expression of the increased commodification of both material and intellectual aspects of life (land, air/CO2, forests, minerals, genes, education, health, water...).

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